I am going to start offering sneak peeks into my current projects. As I mentioned earlier this week, my current focus is the first book of my four-part series Hell School: Fresh Meat.
Tentative Cover title. Thoughts?
This is one of the hardest books I have written to date. I actually started working on this book in 1999. The reason I have struggled over the years is that this series is based on a true story, MY true story.
It has a very personal note for me because most of the stalker stories are based on my own experience. Yes, the book is listed as fiction and the finale is fiction, but only based on my deepest fears. All through high school I was plagued by a stalker and no one was able to do anything for me. I approached teachers, the police, counselors and even the principal and vice principal. But since my stalker had not already done something, there was nothing they could do.
A lot of my friends made fun of me and some even suggested that I was paranoid and watched too much TV. Things like that didn’t happen in our little town. Fortunately my mom taught me to be smart and cautious. I never went anywhere by myself, trusted my gut, and did everything I could to stay off of his radar. Unfortunately, I missed out on a lot of what most high school kids do. I never went to a high school party, because I was afraid he might show up. I went to two football games, but then he found out that I was going and showed up at my third and last football game.
I did go to my proms, because I found dates who wouldn't be a problem. But I never had a boyfriend from high school. There were a few guys who were interested, but he would invariably threaten or scare them off. I wasn’t worth pursuing when they had to deal with a six foot four behemoth who had such pleasant nick names as Wolfman Jack or Lumber Jack from Hell. (No, I did not make those up.)
As soon as I graduated I booked it for the least likely college that he could get into and made sure that no one except my closest friends and family knew where I was. That Thanksgiving I got a call from one of my friends. She asked if I had gotten the newspaper. When I said no, she said she would be at my house in ten minutes.
There was an article about my stalker in the paper under arrests. Apparently when I had disappeared from the scene he started stalking a beautician who had a boyfriend. My stalker beat her boyfriend half to death!
Image from Customer Lobby Blog
The problem with our society is that “Stalker” is a term that has been thrown around so loosely that people do not know when to take it seriously. Unless a stalker actually physically does something there is nothing that the police can do about it. Women are attacked, raped, beaten and often killed because of what someone at some point labeled as “just a stalker.” Those of us who have had a stalker and survived are lucky, but I still feel so much guilt that if someone had just listened to me and paid attention that girl and her boyfriend would not have gone through that.
The way a stalker changes you is permanent. Even if they do not actually attack you, your perception of the world is very different. My husband now laughs at me because for the longest time I would not have a facebook/myspace/twitter account. He thinks it is because I am a technophobe, but the truth is: I am afraid. Sane people should not put their private information out there for the predator’s to see.
He laughs, because I always take my keys out before I leave a store: The truth, I am always hyper vigilant and have to have something (even just a key) that could be used as a weapon.
I don’t like to go out to clubs unless I’m in a group. I don’t like shopping at night and will avoid it like the plague. I hate big shopping days like Black Friday. I don’t go out much and I never just drive around. I am constantly checking in and I want him and my children to do the same. He says I am a control freak. I say I am a survivor.
My kids love to have What if: discussions such as “what if there was a zombie apocalypse, what could you do to survive?:
What if a burglar broke in what would you do?
What if you were in a slasher movie, how would you survive?
My answers awe, mystify and even sometimes scare them. I don’t have to think about what I would be willing to do, because I have already evaluated that a long time ago and I know what I would do. I took women’s self-defense. I won’t leave my children out of my sight in public for two minutes. They cannot hang out with kids I don’t know, or go to a friend’s house unless I know the parents. (And I’m not talking about a quick five minute conversation over the phone, I’m talking hung out with and talked with and even done research on "know".)
My husband thinks I am a paranoid control freak. I know I am a paranoid control freak. The world is a scary place and people don’t want to see it in their own little communities. Refusing to see it or thinking that would never happen here is exactly what allows these predators to continue to hunt and harm others.
I hope this book opens your eyes. I doubt you will think it is fun, but I do hope you will think it is a good read. I hope you will find it educational and I hope it will help you become a survivor, not another victim.
That is my introduction to the book. The Preface, if you will.
I have struggled back and forth on how to tell the story. I have debated bringing it to current time, telling the whole story in one book, telling it in first person, versus writing in third person, but really the hardest part is telling the story. The first several times I started the story, I would have PTSD-like recurring nightmares, would feel like I was being watched, and be afraid of being alone.
Time heals all wounds, and I am finally ready to focus on how to tell the story. I look forward to sharing more as I progress!
What do you think of this story? Would you like to learn more? Share in the comments below!